It might be comforting to think that American democracy has made it past the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. But our research shows that a wide range of the American people, of all political stripes, seek leaders who are fundamentally anti-democratic.
It’s true that many who participated in the insurrection are facing consequences, including prison time. Many candidates for state office who falsely claimed that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election lost their races. And the congressional committee investigating the insurrection voted to refer Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal charges.
But more than 100 members of Congress who objected to the results of a free and fair election won their reelection campaigns. And at least seven people who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 have been elected to state legislatures and two have been elected to Congress.
As scholars interested in how committed citizens are to democracy, we wanted to measure whether regular Americans want someone who will abide by democratic traditions and practices or dispense with them.
Using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 respondents, we found that a large proportion of Americans are willing to support leaders who would violate democratic principles.